Having borrowed so much from his American Warrior Show podcast recently (about Gabe Suarez, Steve Tarani, and Tom Givens), I thought it only appropriate that I search through the 60+ episodes to find one in which Mike Seeklander himself is the focus.
In this episode, the COO of the American Warrior Society, Rich Brown, interviews Seeklander. I will focus on two of the questions to which I found Seeklander’s questions interesting, and one question of my own.
(1) What does it mean to be armed?
In a previous post, I raised the question, “What does ‘unarmed’ mean anyway?” So many people equate “unarmed” with “not in possession of a firearm” and therefore “not a threat.” That people without firearms can still threats to our well-being is true without question. But what about the equation of “unarmed” with “no firearm”?
Seeklander begins his answer to this question by saying that being armed means more than having a gun. Being armed means having at your disposal any edged weapon, less lethal tool, an electronic device like a stun gun, or any “weapon of opportunity” (i.e., improvised weapon). He goes on to say that being armed more fundamentally means people
arming themselves with their own wits and their own physical abilities to throw a punch or kick. Because we — our hands and our feet and the extensions of our hands and feet — are the tools. The ultimate controller of those tools is the brain. So, we are the weapon system.
I have heard variations on this theme before, but it seems worth repeating because almost always when I say “armed citizens” in my work, I am talking about people armed with guns.
Of course, I say this despite knowing that early concealed carry bans were as concerned about people armed with sword canes, Bowie knives, and the “Arkansas toothpick” as with firearms. And I learned from Pamela Haag’s The Gunning of America that a “stand of arms” is “a complete set of weapons for one soldier: for example, a rifle and a bayonet” (p. 13). So, being armed clearly means something more than carrying a gun, and has for some time.
(2) What does it mean to be a warrior?
I have previous expressed uneasiness about describing private citizen concealed carriers as “warriors,” and some have questioned the application of the term to law enforcement officers, as well. So the idea of an American WARRIOR Society is one of those things that make me go hmmmmm (props to C+C Music Factory).
Although he may be fighting an uphill battle because the terms is so loaded with other meanings, Seeklander offers a useful clarification of what he means by warrior:
The term “warrior” I think is mislabeled. I think a lot of people think of it as a militant-type warrior. But I think anybody who is willing to fight is a warrior. . . . If that person [you] didn’t think was a warrior was attacked, . . . would they fight? Yes, they would. They’re a warrior. For those few that [think they] wouldn’t fight if they were attacked and their young child was attacked and about to be harmed, or their pet, would they fight? You’re damn right they would fight. They are a warrior. So I literally define anyone who’s willing to fight as a warrior. You’re willing to go to war with someone else to protect yourself or what you believe in.
I still don’t think of myself as a “warrior,” so perhaps I need to work more on my mindset. But I did learn something fundamental about myself when I was in a dangerous situation with my kids several years ago: I would fight. I would fight for myself. Even more so, I would fight for them.
[The last clause in what I quote above is interesting — going to war to protect “what you believe in” — because in this podcast Seeklander also says he was originally thinking of naming his American Warrior Society the Christian Warrior Society. But that gets me into my old field of the sociology of religion, so I will not go there.]
(3) What does this have to do with training?
This series of posts is about the private citizen gun training industry and the podcast episode is called “The Way of Training.” So what does being armed and being a warrior have to do with training? Quite simply, Seeklander argues:
If you’re willing to fight, you’re probably a warrior, but you’re not a very good one if you don’t train.
Step #1 is accepting the challenge and saying, Yeah, I’m a warrior. I’m willing to fight. OK, now if you’re willing to fight, what are you willing to do about that? Are you willing to train? Are you willing to practice? What are you willing to endure from a physical standpoint in order to get better, faster, stronger, technically more proficient, mentally stronger?
Of course, this comes at a price. It costs in terms of money, of course, but also time and energy (physical, mental, and emotional) and opportunity costs.
But there are potential costs to not doing things as well. There’s a potential cost to not being willing to fight, and there’s a potential cost to being willing to fight but not being well-trained. As with so much of personal protection — and life more generally — it comes down to complex risk calculations. Seeklander clearly falls on the side of most in the gun training industry: hope for the best, prepare for the worst; it’s not the odds, it’s the stakes; better to have and not need, than to need and not have.